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Pre-Kindergarten Amendment

By: Ann Howard
By: Ann Howard

The problem is twofold in Leon County, but one way or another, the program has to be implemented since it's now part of Florida's Constitution.

School Board members and administrators in Leon County admit they're worried about the pre-kindergarten program as the first summer session approaches.

For the summer, kids must receive 300 instructional hours, so the first question just months before it begins is how will district get those 300 hours?

"The state is asking that we have 300 hours of instruction. That means seven to eight hours a day of pre-k aged children sitting in a classroom," says Sheila Costigan, a Leon County School Board member and chairwoman.

Also, where will the districts get the teachers for the summer program because so many use the time for professional development and down time.

"It also suggests we have one teacher to 10 children in a seven to eight hour day. It just doesn't make instructional sense," says Sheila Costigan.

But the Office of Early Learning says the summer program can be done, especially as each district is given about $2,500 per student, and when it comes to recruiting qualified teachers, "If there are teachers looking for summer jobs, this would be fun," says Glayds Wilson, the deputy of early learning.

Also, the office says the 300 hours aren't restricted to the classroom.

"They can learn on the playground, learn during lunch time. Except for nap time, there are many ways to instruct children, so we know the 300 hours will be a challenge, but we're confident the school districts can work it out."

The Department of Education says this program is very popular among parents, and the department says that's obvious now that Florida has the second largest pre-k program in the country.


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